Creighton finally lays her cards on the table without showing them all
Sketch: meandering Dáil debate will have little bearing on women leaving the State
Lucinda Creighton’s speech on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill “was very interesting, not least for the number of red herrings she introduced during the course of it”.
A woman and her husband sit in the departure lounge at Dublin Airport, waiting to catch their flight to Liverpool. He holds her hand and wishes he could take their sadness away. It’s been like this since the doctor said their baby will not survive after birth.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” she says quietly.
He nods, lost for words.
Their flight is called. They pick up their overnight cases and continue their heartbreaking journey to the abortion clinic abroad.
In Cork Airport, there’s a similar scene.
A young girl sits with her mam, watching the board for details of their flight to Amsterdam. They don’t talk about the rape.
The girl looks out the window at the rain.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” murmurs her mother, slowly shaking her head. “Lucinda Creighton could lose the Fine Gael whip and, much more importantly, she will have to step down as Minister of State for European Affairs.”
The departure gate opens. They pick up their cabin bags and continue on their shattering journey to the abortion clinic abroad . . .
Back in Leinster House yesterday, we played the numbers game.
Ticking off the names of those Fine Gael deputies who say they will defy party instructions and vote against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Should it pass into legislation – and all the signs are that it will do so comfortably – nothing will change.
Except, emphasises the Taoiseach and his Ministers and those TDs in the party who are under considerable pressure to oppose this Bill, the circumstances where a woman can have a legal abortion here will become even more restricted than they are today.
All eyes were on Lucinda Creighton.
Her deep reservations about the legislation as it stands now is a matter of record. Until yesterday, she was able to avoid having to take a position on the debate due to her heavy workload during the EU presidency.
But that’s Lithuania’s baby now.
“Lucinda was unlucky with the timing. She could have been out of the country if the abortion vote was held during the presidency. That’s hard luck on her,” said a sympathetic colleague.
But yesterday morning, the deputy for Dublin South East had to lay her cards on the table. Which she did, but without showing them all.
Her speech on the Bill was very interesting, not least for the amount of red herrings she introduced during the course of it.
The Government’s stated aim to legislate for the confined parameters of a Supreme Court ruling brought Lucinda on a world tour.
She linked China’s single baby policy and female babies being aborted in India with what might happen here if the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is passed.
“The phenomenon of designer babies is one element that horrifies me most,” she said, going on to mention the joy of the Special Olympics “which saw children and adults with intellectual disabilities – and particularly Down syndrome – celebrated in this country like never before”.
Interestingly, Independent TD Finian McGrath, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, spoke before the Minister of State and said he is backing the legislation.
“When I was outside Leinster House protesting for more resources for people with disabilities, I didn’t see many of the people who are voting against this Bill standing alongside me,” he told us.